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Manchester United vs. Newcastle - Preview: There’s only one true United

And it can be found upon Tyneside

Newcastle United v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

The Battle for United Moniker-Rights is going down this Sunday.

Newcastle and Manchester are facing each other at Old Trafford in North West England tomorrow in a Big Six matchup pitting the fifth- and sixth-best teams in the Premier League 10 matchdays into the 2022/23 season. It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

Yes, it does. For the Magpies, that is.

While Red Mancunians will be talking about how they are already above Newcastle in the table even with one game in hand, Geordies could argue that their club is doing much better in the early season having 17 goals and only nine against.

While Red Mancunians will be remembering everybody that they can still finish atop their Europa League group having defeated Omonia Nicosia on Thursday with a last-second goal, Geordies could counter that by arguing about how shameful it is for the poor neighbor from Manchester to have endured a 6-3 trouncing while also competing in the lesser European competition instead of the one gracing Big Blue Brothers from City.

I don’t really need to keep this going, because the very own Eddie Howe put everybody on notice. Asked whether Newcastle could ever be as big as Manchester United, Howe didn’t hesitate for a second saying that he “[doesn’t] like to put ceilings on clubs.” He clearly has a point. “Looking at [Howe’s] own history, Bournemouth were associated as a League One, League Two team, primarily League One, but we have seen them grow into a Premier League club, so why not?”

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the Saudi Arabia PIF takeover of Newcastle. It was the second week in a row in which Newcastle cooked their opponent, earned three points, and completed a two-game, nine-goal explosion that has the Magpies sitting in European-qualified positions. No dream is too big and Howe knows it well.

And although defeating Red Manchester this Sunday feels much more attainable than many other ambitions crossing Newcastle’s collective mind these days, that victory would still mark another milestone in NUFC’s run to claim the United moniker as one of their (only) own.

What’s poppin’

Talking about Manchester’s gaffer Erik ten Hag as something new would feel very old as we hit the midpoint of October. It’s been nearly half a year since his appointment last April even though it took a couple of months for the Dutch to actually take the reins of the Mancunian club. Judging by his past, ten Hag has already burnt one-fourth of his tenure in Manchester as he’s only averaged two years in the positions he’s taken in the past. How about that!?

The changes ten Hag has brought to Manchester are hardly unnoticeable, starting with the benching of Red Devils legend Cristiano Ronaldo even though the Portuguese is nearly the most prolific goalscorer in Manchester’s recent history, let alone among those still actively playing and part of the Red Squadron.

The results have improved, too, with ten Hag winning eight games of his 12 at the helm compared to... well, another eight wins in the 2022 calendar year before he was named coach of the first team. Also, considering Manchester averaged a 5.75th position in the Premier League table from the start of January to the end of last season, compared to this season’s average 9.65th position through Matchday 10, ten Hag has yet to outperform his most-recent predecessor.

But, again, the Red Devils faithful will always find a way to remind you about their reigning fifth-position place compared to Newcastle’s sixth in the table. So cute.

The start of ten Hag’s tenure couldn’t have been worse for Manchester. The Small Red Brother lost two against Brighton and Brentford by a combined 6-1 result. Ugh. Newcastle drew nil-nil against Brighton and put five goals past Brentford’s keeper just last Saturday. The total tally: 5-1 in two games, pretty much the reversed result obtained by Manchester with four of six points earned to Small Red’s zero.

You might want to chalk that up to a little period of adaptation by the Red Devil contingent on the Dutch Devil commander. The truth is that in the last month-and-change of play Manchester has been much better on the pitch.

The win over Arsenal was perhaps more of an outlier than anything else considering the rampant run by the Gunners but wins against Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia (two times!), not to mention Everton, would scare the bejesus out of your grandma.

I don’t want to mention the losses against Real Sociedad and Big Blue Brother because those are teams at another completely different and elevated tier, so it’d be unfair to comment on Red Manchester’s defeats to them.

Manchester, though, won the summer as they ever do, don’t they? Adding Christian Eriksen for free and stealing it from minnows of Brentford truly was a coup and surely a big-profile club move. Getting Dubby on loan only to let him rot on the deepest parts of Old Trafford’s home bench was perhaps not the smartest of deals made.

But spending €235m on three players, including Brazilian up-and-coming talent Antony, was the ultimate power move by the Mancunians donning red threads. Two of the three (the aforementioned Antony and tiny Lisandro Martinez) arrived from the Dutch Eredivisie because Erik ten Hag seemingly only loads his league on his Football Manager saves so he never gets his scouts to really poach talents from other nations.

Tyler Malacia, another Eredivisieimport, cost a good chunk of Manchester’s budget but at least he’s performing up to the expectations attached to his tag (no pun intended). The remaining addition, late-window transfer-target Casemiro (he of the five Champions League trophies won between 2014 and 2022) didn’t know he’d need to fight Scott McTominay for a starting nod but at least the Brazilian will catch a break on Sunday with the Scottish lad suspended for the game against Newcastle.

Speaking of injured lads, Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial are not expected to play tomorrow against the Magpies. It’s a shame, at least in the case of the former, with the World Cup coming and his position in Gareth Southgate’s plan still way up in the air. Am I right, Southy?

Magpies and Devils have faced each other quite a few times over the history of the English game of preference. Their matches have been held 173 times already with the 174th coming tomorrow and the sweetly rounded 175th later in the season as part of the 2023 calendar year and at St James’ Park.

The first game was played nearly 130 years ago in 1895 when Newton Heath (OG Manchester) defeated Newcastle by a final score of 5-1 as part of a League Division Two clash. The latest took place on Dec. 27th, 2021 when both teams agreed to a 1-1 draw in the middle of the cold winter—goals by Edinson Cavani and Allan Saint-Maximin.

It’s funny to list the starters on Newcastle’s front: Dubby; Krafth, Lascelles, Manquillo, Schar; Longstaff, Shelvey, Joelinton; Fraser, ASM, Wilson. You can count how many of those have a chance to repeat tomorrow with a hand and you might still be left with a few free fingers to spare.

Newcastle lastly defeated Manchester all the way back in Oct. 2019 when they edged the Red Mancunians by one single goal courtesy of Matty Longstaff of all men. Jetro Willems and DeAndre Yedlin started that game for the Magpies. Andy Carroll (yes, that Andy Carroll) was on Newcastle’s bench, just in case you needed a reminder that time flies.

You know something has changed at Manchester when you find out that the top-four goalscorers of the team are either newcomers or players that no had fallen out of favor in recent months and past seasons. Antony’s three goals are tied with Rashford and it makes sense that the two Red Devils with the most goals to their names are 1) Ronaldo’s true heir in attitude and playstyle and 2) the Son of Manchester.

Bruno Fernandes is still Manchester’s most impactful player, though, with Eriksen close to him but definitely a tier below as his age is starting to show. The Red Mancunians seem to have finally found their way toward exploiting Jadon Sancho’s talents at least to some extent, which is worrying for the opposition although not a lot yet.

Casemiro will start this weekend ahead of suspended Scotty McTominay unless ten Hag tries to imitate Blue Brother Guardiola and does something crazy like deploying Fred in the middle of the park. Never rule out a single scenario when it involves Red Manchester, though.

Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle Multiverse.

Of course, not everything can be rosy so Howe started his press conference by delivering the lowest of blows to keep everybody on their toes. “Alexander Isak is making progress but he’s not available for this game. We’ve not picked up any new injuries.” One more week on the shelves for Alexander The Great.

The mood went all the way up from that moment on, though, as Howe changed the tone of the whole meeting and started to come up with much brighter comments.

About Jonjo Shelvey’s recovery: “He’s getting closer and he has trained.” About Bruno’s impressive play of late: “When we signed Bruno we didn’t think we were getting goals. It’s happened organically because of how good he is.” About retaining the Brazilian wizard with vultures already knocking on his door: “We desperately want Bruno to be happy here and to see a long-term vision out here.“

Praising words were also dropped over Miggy and Jacob Murphy after their magnificent outings after the last international break. “They’ve both done a great job.” Describing the two attackers individually, Howe said that “Miggy is scoring goals and playing well,” while adding that “Jacob has come in and done so well, giving us really good options in that position which we need due to physical demands.“ Not bad words to be heard by the lads.

On smaller updates, Howe also made public the unavailability of Matt Ritchie for Sunday’s game after picking up a little calf problem, his preference for Newcastle staying in St James’ Park (speaking of a potential expansion of the stadium) instead of looking at building a new place, and about plans regarding the WC-break that should include the scheduling of a few games some sort of a second mini-preseason vein.

We’ll see how this ends, but if the poor neighbors from Manchester think the Red Devils are on the raise, then the Geordies from Newcastle must feel like having already broken the sky.

When and Where’s flowin’

  • Date: Sunday, October 16th
  • Kick-off: 14:00 BST / 9:00 EST / 7:00 PST
  • Location: Old Trafford, Manchester (England)
  • Broadcasts: BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (UK), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, SiriusXM FC, USA Network, Telemundo (USA), fuboTV (Canada)

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How’s it goin’

Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Manchester United 1-1 Newcastle

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Howay the Lads!